Skip to content Skip to navigation

Designing the Professional

Stanford can award you a doctorate, but only you can use it to create the life you want. But - just what life is that and how do you get it?  What is it you really want?  How do you invent a work life that will be both meaningful and satisfying to you and worthwhile in the world?  

ENGR311B:  Designing the Professional helps you address these questions.   

Designing the Professional is also offered through the Stanford Graduate Summer Institute, week-long, immersive courses offered to graduate students free and without credit, each September before Autumn quarter begins.

Read more about SGSI

Led by popular Design Lecturer Dave Evans, this VPGE co-sponsored course applies the point of view and innovation principles of design thinking to the "wicked problem" of designing your life and vocation.  Design thinking, innovated at Stanford over the last 50 years, is an excellent tool to use in this context.  The Spring quarter course is co-taught by Sheri Sheppard, professor in mechanical enginnering aand director of the Designing Education Lab.

In this course, you'll get:

  • A framework for orienting your plans and philosophy regarding career and professional life, and for locating career within life overall.
  • An approach to plotting a pathway to meaning-making and success as a professional.
  • Ideas for evaluating different career domains and multiple careers (eg: the academy, the marketplace, or ...?)
  • Practical skills and exercises for investigating alternatives and career "prototypes".
  • A basic introduction to design thinking which you can apply in other areas.
  • A community of your peers in which to share your ideas and hear how others are thinking about these important issues and questions.
  • A draft plan for the balance of your PhD work and the first season of your professional life following Stanford.

Important Details:

  • Open to ALL PhD candidates from all departments
  • Increased capacity - we are more than doubling our previous capacity to allow more students to participate - don't hesitate to register!
  • ALL STUDENTS must register (you may drop later if you don't want the unit).  
  • All course communications are managed by email lists generated from Axess, so registration is critical.  

More information:

  • Non-credit, full participation is allowed, but no observation-only auditing is permitted.
  • Shopping the course is permitted at the first class session.
Time Commitment: 

Registration Process


ENGR311B:  Designing the Professional will not be offered in Spring 2016 as a regular course.

Partner Organization

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (